One week after making their debut in the AFC Champions League group stage, Johor Darul Ta'zim hit another milestone in their club's history as they became the first Malaysian side to earn a point in Asia's most elite club competition. The point earned at Tan Sri Dato Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium in their second match in the competition showed how far the team have come.
Yet the reigning Malaysia Super League champions could rightly feel that more could have been achieved and on the basis of how the match went, are left wondering just how they have not managed to get all three points in this encounter. Gyeongnam were completely outplayed and dominated but for some wayward finishing and good goalkeeping from Lee Bum-soo, might have went home empty handed.
JDT were the first to threatened when Safawi Rasid found space in the 13th minute to unleash a curling shot from outside the box which Lee Bum-soo had to push out for a corner kick. Diogo Luis Santo saw his overhead kick in the 24th minute going just over the bar before Bum-soo once again won his duel with Safawi to deny the forward just two minutes later.
Things continue to go the way of the home side as they controlled proceedings, not only denying Gyeongnam the space to attack but also doing very well to keep the Korean side on their toes from a defensive standpoint. Only a poor pass from Nazmi Faiz in the 38th minute denied the host a chance at goal, with the rare starter failing to find Safawi nor Gonzalo Cabrera when JDT had the numerical advantage in attack.
With the action ticking off towards the half time break, there were two more opportunities for the deadlock to be broken. First Afiq Fazail was denied by a superb Jordan Mutch block following a JDT corner kick. While the away side finally produced their first good chance through a corner kick of their own which Kwak Taehwi headed just over the bar.
JDT did not pay heed to the warning which Gyeongnam produced late in the first half when the same combination worked to create the first goal of the match in the 52nd minute. Lee Yeong-jae swung in a cross from the corner kick and this time Taehwi managed to lose Adam Nor Azlin to glance the ball past Izham Tarmizi.
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Stung by the goal, JDT did not let their heads drop and tried to immediately find their way back into the game. In the 63rd minute, two chances fell to two home import players with Mauricio heading wide from close range before Diogo forced Bum-soo to push a goal-bound shot away.
But the equaliser would come soon enough as a defensive mistake from Gyeongnam paved the way for JDT to find themselves on level pegging. Song Ju-hun inadvertently handled the ball in the 66th minute for referee Mohanad Qasim to award a penalty for the home side.
Having scored their only ever goal in the competition a week ago, Diogo once again came up with the goods as he confidently step up to the plate and sent Bum-soo the wrong way to make it 1-1 with 22 minute of football left to be played.
Spurred on by the equaliser, JDT went for the jugular and almost found the lead in the 72nd minute. Safawi had cut inside from the right and his shot crashed agonisingly against the post and it was a feat replicated by Cabrera who got onto the rebound but also saw his shot hit the bar.
The home side had more opportunities to win the tie late on but just could not capitalise on it. The impressive Diogo crashed one header onto the bar in the 88th minute before Safawi was denied in an one-on-one situation with the equally impressive Bum-soo just a minute later.
A magical night in Johor Bahru as the the Larkin stadium enjoyed a full hearted display from Johor Darul Ta'zim as they not only hold Gyeongnam FC to a 1-1 draw but could have just as easily picked up their first win of the campaign.
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